More than five files from The ‘dance’ of life: visualizing metamorphosis during pupation in the blow fly <i>Calliphora vicina</i> by X-ray video imaging and micro-computed tomography

The dramatic metamorphosis from larva to adult of insect orders such as Diptera cannot usually be witnessed because it occurs within an opaque structure. For the cyclorrhaphous dipterans, such as blow flies, this structure is the puparium, formed from the larval cuticle. Here, we reveal metamorphosis within the puparium of a blow fly at higher temporal resolution than previously possible with two-dimensional time-lapse videos created using the X-ray within a micro-computed tomography scanner, imaging development at 1-min and 2-min intervals. Our studies confirm that the most profound morphological changes occur during just 0.5% of the intrapuparial period (approx. equivalent to 1.25 h at 24°C) and demonstrate the significant potential of this technique to complement other methods for the study of developmental changes, such as hormone control and gene expression. We hope this will stimulate a renewed interest among students and researchers in the study of morphology and its astonishing transformation engendered by metamorphosis.